“Welcome back Miss McFadden. Did everything go well?” asked Susan, my assistant.
“Yes, even better than I expected, Susan. They signed,” I replied, as I set my briefcase on her desk.
“Are you serious, we got the account?” she asked.
“That’s what I’m saying, dear girl, we landed the entire job. We start after the New Year. I’m so excited I can hardly breathe. I’m going to hire a complete staff just to handle this account,” I replied.
“Well, I’m sure twenty-three million dollars will pay the bill. How many branches do we have to redo?”
“Seven hundred and fifty-six. I know we can handle it. I haven’t come this far to fail,” I said.
The phone rang and Susan answered it.
“Miss McFadden’s office,” she said. “Hold please. It’s Larry Cline from Berkshire and Thomas, do you want to speak to him?”
“Yes, I’ll take it in my office, thank you Susan,” I replied.
I entered my office and removed my heels. It felt good to walk across the deep carpet to my desk. My office occupied the corner of the forty-third floor in an office building in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. My name is Cynthia Lynn McFadden, and I’m the owner of Cynthia McFadden and Associates, one of the largest interior design companies in Georgia. I started the business in my kitchen eight and a half years ago, and thru luck and hard work it prospered. I had just landed a major remodel of one of the largest banks in the US, and I felt as though I was walking on clouds. Maybe it was the carpet and the relief of removing my heels, but I doubt it.
“Hello Larry, how are you?” I gushed.
“Oh please call me Cindy, Cynthia sound so formal,” I said.
“Do you really like my design, wonderful? I think it will do wonders to your law firm.”
“Yes, I’d like that, lunch, certainly, let’s say Monday at twelve? I’ll see you there,” I replied and lowered the phone.
I checked my Email and filed the ones I needed to respond to and gave them to Susan. The rest I deleted. I surfed the web mindlessly as I was putting off something I needed to do. It was time. I clicked my computer to sleep and picked up the phone. I slowly punched in the number on the keypad. The phone on the other end rang twice before she answered.
I tried to speak but the lump in my throat wouldn’t allow me to. Tears filled my eyes as I tried to respond.
“Hello,” she said, but this time with irritation in her voice.
“Hhi…….., Mom,” I answered softy.
It had been ten years since I had spoken to my mother. The last time we spoke we had parted with both of us spewing hatred toward each other. That was when I walked out the door, never to return. It hadn’t been good, but I felt it was time to bury the hatchet. It was only three days until Christmas, and this year I wanted to spend it with my mother and father.
“John, John, is that really you?” my mother asked, with the obvious surprise showing in her voice.
“Yes Mother, its me,” I responded, as the sadness washed away, only to be replaced with anger.
“My God Johnny, it’s been ten years. Why haven’t you called?” she implored.
I wanted to snap at her, she knew why, but doing that would just widen the gap between us once again.
“You know why Mom. I couldn’t,” I answered, as I buried my anger.
“I thought you were dead, and so did your father,” she said.
“No mother, I’m not dead. Mom, I want to come home for Christmas,” I said brightly, trying not to betray my feelings.
I was met with silence as my mother pondered what I had said.
“Mom, did you hear me?” I asked.
“Yes, I heard. I’m just surprised you want to come home after all these years,” she replied.
“Mom, I would really like to see you and Dad again, please?” I pleaded.
I wasn’t going to stoop to the level of pleading with my mother, but her voice had sent me over the edge. I wanted so badly to be accepted by her and my father that I would allow myself to beg to come home.
“When would you be coming?” she asked, uneasily.
“For Christmas, Mom, please?”
“You sound different from what I remember?”
“I’m not the same person that left that night, Mom, I’ve changed,” I replied.
Boy, have I changed. I was a bitter young man that night so many years ago. I had stormed from my parent’s home after another argument of who I was. My parents couldn’t accept that I was a woman in the wrong body, so I ran. I was nineteen years old and only had a few hundred dollars to my name, that and the cloths on my back.
I hitched rides until I ended up in Atlanta. I found a job in a fast food restaurant and stayed in a homeless shelter until I saved enough money to rent my own apartment. I was able to start my transition after that. It took several months for me to buy what little clothing I could from charity stores. That’s when luck came into play.
I was shopping at a store one day and noticed the manager talking to another person about how to make the store more friendly to people other than the down and out. I had always loved the design aspect of construction and couldn’t help myself and interjected myself into their conversation. I gave them my ideas and they remodeled the store as I had suggested. What I hadn’t realized that the other person was an architect and he liked the way I could design a space without paper and convey the concept so easily. He left his phone number with the manager and asked that I call him the next time I came into the store.
I called the man and I was interviewed for a job. It wasn’t much, but it was better than flipping burgers. I was straightforward with him and explained that I was going to transition into the person that was hidden inside my body. He was a little uncomfortable with that, but gave me the job anyway.
I started my new job and loved what I was doing. I also began my real life test. I felt that it would be better for the other employees to know Cynthia rather than John. I was open about who I was and most of the other people accepted me as a woman.
I worked there for two years and had been on hormones for most of that time so my body had pretty much become feminized. I had been involved in most of the designs that were a success and the company was pleased with my performance. They would gush as to what a wonderful job I was doing, but I was never promoted to a higher level in the company. I had a discussion with my supervisor and he told me the reason was that I was different. I knew that to mean transgendered, so I quit and opened my own company.
It was difficult at first. I worked from my apartment and did everything, sales design, and contracts. It was hard, but I succeeded beyond even my wildest dreams. I’ve never hidden my previous life and most people accept me as the woman I am today.
As I became successful I had the money to complete my journey. I won’t lie and say that I haven’t had help from my favorite surgeon. I’ve had facial and breast surgery, and the most important, sexual reassignment. It was expensive, but worth every penny of it. I’m a rather tall woman, five foot ten, to be exact, or stately, as I prefer. I’ve been told that I’m very attractive, and don’t seem to lack having dates when I wish.
I have a steady boyfriend who’s a surgeon at a local hospital, and no he isn’t the one that made me who I am today. He knows of my past, in fact all the men I’ve dated were told before anything happened between us. I’ve never had a problem with it, nor have they.
In the last year I bought a six thousand square foot home in a gated community in a suburb of Atlanta. I, of course decorated the home myself.
Now I wondered if my parents would accept the new me?
“I should hope not John. If you say that you’ve changed then yes, please come home,” Mom said.
“Thanks Mom, I’ll see you Thursday, bye,” I said as I hung up the phone.
I had some shopping to do. I hadn’t planned on going home, but now that I was, and I wanted to make an impression. I bought a watch for my father and a necklace for mom. Both were breathtakingly expensive.
I called for a taxi Thursday morning to take me to the airport. I had packed my suitcase with several days worth of clothing. I was wearing one of my suits. The skirt stopped at my knee and I looked like I always did, a woman with class.
The driver took my luggage from me and held the door as I entered the cab. Normally I have to do that myself, so I assumed I looked better than normal.
The ride to the airport was uneventful, and I couldn’t help smiling at the driver when I caught him looking at me in the mirror. When we arrived I gave him a larger tip than normal and wished him a Merry Christmas. I was rewarded with an ear-to-ear smile.
I removed my Jimmy Choos when I found my seat in first class. I have been flying this way for the last two years and shudder to think of the small space between the rows in the tourist section.
The plane departed and was soon flying at thirty thousand feet. I opened my latest Michael Connelly novel and insulated myself from the rest of the passengers. I’m a sucker for good mysteries, so I follow Connelly and Paterson like a junkie.
I had read almost half of the book when I felt the plane start its glide into SFO. I looked out the window and saw San Jose passing slowly beneath us. I raised my seat into the forward position and looked out the window once more. The small cities that lined the bay passed by in a continuous band of humanity as we glided to my final destination. The wheels touched down with a screech when they hit the fairway and the jet taxied to the terminal.
I put my heels back where they felt most comfortable and debarked the plane. The walk to the baggage area wasn’t particularly long, but I felt the stares as I walked. I went into the ladies room and looked at my reflection in the mirror. I still looked presentable and wondered why I was on the receiving end of the stares. I turned to the full-length mirror and saw why. I was gorgeous, even if I say so myself. I touched up my lipstick and exited the room. I felt much better as I continued my stroll.
I was waiting for my luggage to come out of that mysterious chute in the center of the carrousel, when a man approached me.
“Excuse me Miss. I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you’re the most stunning woman that I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.
I smiled and said, “Thank you.”
God, that line was so old, but I couldn’t fault the guy for trying.
The bell rang and the carrousel started to turn. My bag finally came into view and as I tried to reach for it, my new best friend removed it from the line for me.
“Here you go sweetie. You shouldn’t be lifting anything that heavy,” he said with a smile.
“Thank you, but the name’s not sweetie, its Cynthia,” I responded.
“Its nice to meet you Cynthia, I’m Carl. Let me take this to your ride for you. It’s much too heavy for you to carry,” he said.
The way he way staring at me was making me feel creepy. I was a little taller than he was, but then again I was wearing four-inch heels. Besides, if my bag was so heavy, how did I get it to the airport in the first place?
“Thanks anyway Carl, but I can handle it myself,” I replied, as I pulled the handle from the top and rolled the suitcase away. I turned back to watch a very dejected Carl, staring at my ass. Creep.
I went to the car rental booth and got the keys for the Mercedes I had rented. It was a GLK350. I like to style, so just shoot me. I placed my luggage in the rear of the car and closed the back hatch. So much for being too heavy for a pretty girl like me, I laughed.
I knew where I was going, but had never driven to Sonoma in my life. I programmed the GPS to my parent’s house and exited the garage.
The GPS took me to the 380, then the 280 and finally onto the 1 and the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a sparklingly clear day. I could see the whole bay area to the right and the Farallon Islands to my left. The view was spectacular. I could see why people would live here and nowhere else. My drive continued up through the tunnel and down the Waldo grade. My mind went blank to the scenery and focused on what was going to happen in forty-five minutes.
How would my parents be toward their new daughter? Would they accept me, or would this meeting turn in to another shouting match. If it did, at least I wouldn’t be running away to hitch a ride home, my Mercedes would see to that. I had told my mother that I wasn’t the same person that had left so many years before, which I wasn’t. The person on the inside was also the person on the outside, now. The transformation was complete.
My mind wandered back to that fateful night that I left. My parents were out to dinner and the lure of my mother’s cloths hooked me like a fish. I was into her finest gown before they had cleared the driveway. I posed and turned in front of the mirror that night. Little did I know that my father had forgotten his wallet and credit cards at home. My mother hadn’t brought hers with her so after arriving at the restaurant, he turned around after dropping my mother off to hold their table. I didn’t hear my father enter the house and I was stupid enough to be stand in the living room in all my glory. I thought my father’s eyes would pop out of his head when he saw me. He knew exactly who was standing in front of him. There was none of that,’oh, who are you?’ nonsense, but rather a look of disgust before he spoke.
“Take off your mother’s clothes and go to you room. We’ll discuss this when your mother and I get home,” he spat, turned and left the house.
I had never felt so degraded in my life as I did at that moment, I felt my eyes fill with tears and run down my face. God how could I have been so careless?
My eyes filled as I continued to drive and thought of how I felt that night. It was a nightmare I would never forget.
I removed the gown and sat in my room for hours until my parents returned from dinner. As the time moved slowly forward my emotions ran from fear to panic. What was going to happen to me now that my perversion was out in the open? I felt dirty and ashamed of my real feelings. I would alternate between crying and shaking in fear. Why did they have to take so long to get home? I think the wait was the worse torture they could have done to me.
The dreaded moment finally arrived as I heard the car pull into the driveway.
I had locked the door after my father left, so I jumped when I heard the key slide into the cylinder and the bolt retract.
“John, come here this instant,” my father yelled.
I rose from the bed and walked slowly to the living room.
My mother and father were standing in front of the couch.
“Sit,” my father ordered while pointing at the couch.
I sat without saying a word.
“What in the hell do you think you were doing when I came home?” he shouted.
I couldn’t think of what to say. Fear had taken any thoughts I had and destroyed them.
“Answer me, God damn it,” he screamed.
I was shaking by this time. The long wait and now this was all I could take.
I looked defiantly at my father and said, “Being me.”
“Don’t sass me boy. When I ask a question I expect and answer and not some mumbo jumbo about being yourself. Do you want me to ask you an easier question? I will. Why in the hell did you have your mother’s dress on?” he snarled.
“Because this is who I am, Dad,” I replied.
I pulled the car to the side of the road, tears streaming from my eyes as I remembered that horrible night. I gained control of my emotions and looked in the visor mirror. God, my makeup was ruined. I’d have to do some serious repair before I met my parents. I pulled back onto the highway and returned to my thoughts.
“Bullshit he yelled. You just wanted to jack off, didn’t you? You needed a girl, isn’t that right. I hope you didn’t mess up your mother’s dress, you perverted bastard,” he yelled at me.
My mother, to her credit hadn’t said anything yet, but that was about to change.
“How dare you wear my clothes, John? What were you thinking?”
“I’m sorry Mom, I didn’t think you would find out,” I mournfully said.
“I hope you didn’t stretch it out, God, I’m so embarrassed.”
“Mom, no one saw me other than dad. There’s no reason to be embarrassed,” I replied.
The slap came hard and fast. My father had struck me in the face. He hadn’t spanked me since I was a child. My eyes filled with tears as the fiery pain hit my face.
“And now you’re going to cry like a girl?” my father said.
“Yes Dad, I am, because that’s exactly what I am, a girl,” I screamed back at him.
“Bullshit, you’re no more a girl than I am.”
“Dad, I am a girl. I’m sorry you can’t see that, but this is what I am, a girl,” I said, as my voice grew louder.
“You’re not a girl, you’re a man, and a pretty poor excuse of one I might add,” he chuckled.
“You’re my parents. Can’t you see who I really am?” I implored.
“You’re nothing more than a pervert,” my mother answered.
“I’m not,” I screamed.
“You are, and if you can’t change, you’re no longer welcome in our house,” Dad said.
“Fine, fuck you mother and fuck you too Dad, fuck all of you,” I screamed as I ran from the house to begin the journey that brought me back to were I was today.
I was almost home. I pulled the car to the side of the road to repair the damage I had done earlier. I wondered why we women always found a way to destroy all the work we did to make ourselves look nice at the most inopportune time?
I parked the car in front of the house where I was raised. The lights were on and I could see that my father still wasn’t too old to put lights around the house and in the large fir tree in the front yard. It brought memories of a much nicer time. I checked my make up one more time before I exited the car. I felt as though my walk to the front door was to the executioner’s blade. I steeled myself and knocked on the door. My mother opened the door.
“Yes, may I help you?” she asked, when she saw me.
“Mom, its me,” I answered.
My mother paled when I said that. She had no idea that I had become a woman. Apparently she thought that I had come to my senses and became a man called John. We stood like that for what seemed like minutes, but I’m sure it was just seconds.
“Who is it Muriel?” my father shouted from the living room.
“Its, its,” she couldn’t answer.
“It’s me Dad,” I replied
“Me who?” he asked.
“It’s your son,” Mom finally answered.
When she said that I felt as though I had been kneed in the balls, if I still had them.
“Well, bring him in,” Dad replied.
“Uh, come in dear,” Mom said.
I stepped over the threshold and entered the house I had bolted from ten years ago. My heels clicked on the hardwood floor as I followed my mother to the living room and the executioner’s chamber.
My father was looking as I entered the room. The look of disappointment couldn’t be missed. Surely he was expecting a man, and when his daughter entered the room, I could see the look of defeat.
“Hi Dad,” I said.
It took a minute for him to gather himself, but he didn’t fail to disappoint me.
“What the fuck is this. Your mother said you changed. She said you came to your senses,” he snapped.
“Well hello to you too, Dad. Yes I have changed. I became who I am.” I answered with fire in my voice.
“Nonsense, go change and stop with this little joke of yours,” he said.
“Change into what father? I’m a woman now, one hundred percent. This is me, either you accept it, or I’m out of here,” I responded.
My father shook as he gathered his wits about him. As his son I had never talked back to him, but now, I was a woman, and pretty good one at that.
“Please don’t go, John, please, we can work this out,” my mother pleaded.
“Mother, before we go any farther, my name isn’t John anymore. I’m Cynthia Lynn McFadden. John was buried years ago.” I replied.
When my mother choked and fought tears I knew I had over stepped the boundaries of what I was trying to say. Being a businesswoman had made me hard in the sense that I could be very direct when it came to negotiations. I was trying to have my parents accept me, not make a business deal, and I had to remember that.
“You’re not dead, you’re my son, you always will be,” my father said.
“Dad, please listen to me, I’ve never been a boy. I tried, God knows I did, but it wasn’t me. I had to do this,” I said, moving my hands down my body.
“But why?” my mom asked.
“Because this is who I am. I’m sorry I didn’t live up to your expectations, but this is who I am,” I stated.
I was having trouble with what was happening. I had assumed that my parents would accept me with open arms after such a long time away, but I was mistaken. Nothing had changed since I had left.
“This is who you are?” my father asked. “And what do you do to support yourself? I’ve seen those paper ads. Are you a whore now? Isn’t that what your kind do?” he asked, with a sneer in his voice.
I wasn’t ready for that. How dare he say something like that? God, I’m a successful businesswoman, and he thinks I’m a whore? My skin crawled when he said what he had.
My eyes filled with tears. Nothing had changed since I left here ten years ago. My parents were the same. My Dad’s an asshole and my mother’s a doormat. It might be Christmas, but fuck them.
“I’m sorry I came,” I said. I pulled a business card from my purse and threw it on the table. “If one of you dies, call me, I’d like to send flowers.”
I ran from the house. I didn’t turn to look back. The memories would haunt me for as long as I lived, but I wouldn’t give then the satisfaction of seeing me cry.
I drove away from my parent’s house. I parked several blocks away and let the dam burst. I had been such a fool. Why would I think that my parents would change? I felt so stupid. Now I wondered where I would go? It wasn’t very late, just past seven.
I started the car and drove to a bed and breakfast in the area. What the hell, I thought. Maybe I can find something good after all.
I checked in and went to my room. No sense wallowing in my tears.
The room was large and very tastefully furnished. I was tired and would make the most of the king sized bed. I wanted to eat first, so I called the front desk to see if there was place open that might still be serving. They told me nothing was open, but I was more than welcome to join their family to celebrate Christmas. I accepted because I didn’t want to be alone after what had happened at my parents’.
I took a shower and changed my clothes. The shower made me feel much better as I washed my demons away. I changed into an ankle length skirt and blouse, but left my jacket on the bed. My flat sandals completed the look. I decided that I didn’t need to impress.
I walked into the lobby and was greeted by the owner of the establishment.
“Hi Cynthia, I’m Mark.”
“I’m pleased to meet you,” I said, as I extended my hand toward his.
“Come on and meet the family,” he said.
I followed him into a home connected to the lobby.
Mark was a tall man and about the same age as my father. He clean-shaven and his hair was well groomed. His smile was warm and I felt as though I had known him for all my life.
We entered the living area of his home and the sight of a large group of people greeted me. It was obvious that this was his family and they had gathered for Christmas. I felt strangely out of place.
The room was large and the walls had been plastered in a rough surface that was so popular in California during the forties. There were pictures and wall hangings covering most of the surfaces. A fire burned in the fireplace and it cast a warm glow throughout the room.
“Cynthia, this is my wife Marge,” he said.
“Hello, I’m very pleased to meet you,” I said.
“Welcome to our home Cynthia,” she said, and extended her hand toward mine. Her hand felt warm and loving. “Let me introduce you to the rest of the family.”
“Mom, this is Cynthia, she’ll be joining us for dinner tonight,” Marge said.
“Are you a friend of Darren’s’,” she asked.
“No mom, she doesn’t know Darren. She’s staying in one of the rooms and is alone tonight, and everyone knows you shouldn’t be alone at Christmas,” she said.
“It’s nice to meet you,” I responded.
“You’re very pretty young lady, and since my daughter forgot, you can call me Betty,” she said.
“Don’t mind my mother, she’s a bit of a spitfire, but I guess being eighty-three gives her a right to be feisty at times,” she laughed.
She took my hand and led me to a group of young adults that appeared to be my age.
“Cynthia, this is Darren, Mark Jr., Stacy, Judy, and Vivian,” she said. Kids, this is Cynthia, I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch your last name?”
“Its McFadden, Cynthia McFadden.”
“Darren and Mark are our sons and Vivian is our daughter. Stacy is Darren’s fiancée and Judy is Mark’s wife. Those two little cyclones running around are their sons Chad and Steven,” Marge finished.
“What brings you to Sonoma, Cynthia?” Judy asked.
Judy was an attractive woman and appeared to be in her mid thirties, several pounds overweight, but childbirth can do that to a woman. Her smile was warm and I liked her immediately.
“Just some business I was taking care of,” I replied. I hoped the mist in my eyes wouldn’t betray me.
“McFadden, I remember a Johnny McFadden, we went to school together. He was a nice kid, disappeared about ten years ago. You wouldn’t be related?” Darren asked.
I looked at Darren and then I remembered who he was. Darren Colson, the star running back in high school. He was a nice kid as I recall. I had been on the football team too. I played wide receiver, tall and skinny and not particularly fast.
“Um, no,” I replied.
“Too bad. It would have been nice to have another pretty girl in town,” he laughed.
I blushed at his remark, and it wasn’t lost on Stacy.
“Stop embarrassing her Darren,” she said, and grabbed his arm to let me know he was taken.
I was at a crossroad. I had always been open about my transition and yet I wasn’t sure I should say anything about it tonight? Maybe when we finished dinner and the Colsons’ had gotten to know me better.
“Come on kids, time to eat,” Marge said.
I followed the family into a spacious dinning room. There was a long table covered with food, ham and turkey and all the fixings. I could see I would gain a few extra pounds tonight, but what the heck it was Christmas.
I listened to all the talk about the Colson family and wondered what things might have been if my parents weren’t so closed minded. I felt special being included in the closeness of this family. It was the first time in years that it felt like Christmas. Marge, being the good hostess that she was, realized that I had been left out of the conversation and she tried to get me involved.
“We’ve been rude Cynthia, please tell us more about yourself. We’ve been talking all about ourselves and forgot that you were even here,” she apologized.
“I don’t mind,” I replied.
“Nonsense, you’re almost part of the family now that you’ve spent Christmas with us,” she said. “Where do you live?”
“I live in Atlanta,” I said. “I just bought a house there so I guess I’ll be staying for a while,” I laughed.
“What do you do there?” Darren asked.
“I own an interior design firm called Cynthia McFadden and Associates. We just landed a huge contract with a national chain of banks to remodel all their branches. That’s why I came here, to tell my parents,” I said, proudly.
I suddenly realized that I had made a mistake with that statement. I had told my hosts that I was here on business and not visiting family.
Darren didn’t miss my error.
“I thought you were here on business?” he asked.
I felt my face turning red. I had been caught in a lie. Now was the time to rectify what I had done.
“It was business of a sort, but it didn’t work out. I had come back to Sonoma to try to set things right with my parents,” I said, as my eyes filled with tears once again.
“Darren, what did you do?” his mother asked.
“I just asked her a question mom,” he replied.
“Its nothing Darren did, Marge,” I sniffed. “Let me explain. Remember when Darren asked if John McFadden and I were related and I said no?”
“Yes,” she answered.
“Technically we aren’t. I was John McFadden ten years ago, before I became the person I am today.”
When I said that, you could have heard a pin drop in the room. I waited for the insults and anger to spew from their lips. After my parents, I was ready for it. I would just stand and leave. There wouldn’t be any argument from me. The only thing betraying my bravado were the tears streaming down my cheeks.
“Come here child,” Betty said, and she opened her arms to take as if I were her own child.
I went to her and collapsed in her arms. She rocked me and shushed as the tears flowed. It took several minutes before I composed myself.
“You sit next to me,” she said, and patted the empty seat where Judy had been sitting. “Now tell us everything about yourself, and why you aren’t spending Christmas with your parents.”
I sat and pretty much gave them the history from the time I left until I returned, including to horrible exchange with my parents hours before.
“My God, you poor thing,” Betty said. “How could a parent do such a thing to their daughter?”
“Couldn’t they see how you were aching inside?” Vivian asked.
“They didn’t want to know. All they wanted was something I was not.”
“I don’t get it,” Mark said. “If I were your father I’d be the proudest man in the world. You’re successful, beautiful, and a nice person too, what’s not to love about you?”
“I can’t believe you were Johnny McFadden. You’re really beautiful as a woman,” Darren said.
I smiled slightly when I saw Stacy’s elbow bump his ribs.
“Well, I think your parents are fools. Come here Cynthia,” Marge said and took me in her arms to hold me tight. Yep the tears flowed again.
I stopped crying and because I wasn’t wearing a lot of makeup, repairs weren’t necessary. I helped clear the table and pretty much became part of the family. There were questions as how I became Cynthia, but it wasn’t contentious, but more of a curiosity of how a man could become a woman.
There were questions about my love life and I admitted to being in a relationship with my sweet boyfriend. There wasn’t shock or horror with my choices, but approval. Why couldn’t my own parents react this way?
As the evening wore on it was time to open presents. The family gathered around the Christmas tree and Mark played Santa. Marge left the room for a few moments and returned with a nicely wrapped gift and placed it under the tree. Mark continued handing out gifts and much to my surprise there was one for me. That’s why Marge had snuck off.
I opened the wrapping and found a framed photo of Mark and Marge. It wasn’t much but it meant the world to me.
“Wait,” I whispered through the lump in my throat and ran from the room.
“Where’s she going?” Judy asked.
I went to my room and found my parent’s gifts tucked neatly at the bottom of my suitcase. The tags read Mom and Dad. I wouldn’t change them for obvious reasons. Mark and Marge had become parents to me.
I returned with the gifts and placed them under the tree.
“These are for you, Mark and Marge. I’m sorry I don’t have gifts for the rest of you, but I didn’t know I would become part of such a large family. I’ll plan for all of you next year,” I said.
Mark handed Marge her gift and they both opened the card that came with them. They were both nice sentimental Hallmark cards to a parent and I could see Marge’s eyes fill with tears. She knew the hurt I had gone through and wanted to protect me from having it happen again.
Mark was having the same effect. I smiled when his hand went to his eye to wipe away a tear.
They both opened their present at the same time. Marge gasped when she saw the real diamond necklace that I had bought for my mother. Mark was equally surprised.
“Cynthia, we can’t accept these. They’re much to expensive,” Marge said.
“You can and you will. I bought these for my parents, and you two have been more like a father and mother to me than my birth parents have ever been. You accepted me for who I am, and brought me into your family as if I were a real daughter to you. I love you both so much, and, yeah I love all of the rest of you too,” I said looking at the rest of the family.
“Whoo, hoo, I finally have a pretty sister,” Darren exclaimed, as he turned and ran from the room with Vivian in hot pursuit.
“You’d better run. I can’t help it if Cynthia’s prettier than me, but I’m certainly no dog, you creep,” Vivian laughed.
“God, don’t those two ever stop?” Mark laughed. “Hey you guys, come on back in here. It’s time for our Christmas prayer.”
“What’s that?” I asked Betty.
“It’s a tradition my husband and I started years ago, before Marge was born. It’s our way of saying thanks to the Almighty for blessing our family.”
“Come on guys, circle around.”
Everyone gathered in a circle and held hands. Vivian was on my right and Mark on my left. We all bowed our heads.
“Dear Lord, we thank you on the day of your birth for the kindness you’ve bestowed on our family this year. Mostly though I would like to thank you for bringing us Cynthia, a girl who needs a family. Thank you dear lord, in your name we pray, amen.”
The prayer wasn’t long but what Mark had said about becoming part of this family meant more to me than anything else that had happened this evening. This was the best gift anyone could have given me.
It was early Christmas morning and Mark Jr. and Judy bid us goodbye. Mark had a bike to assemble and he wouldn’t be getting much sleep before the sun came up. Darren drove Stacy home and I rose to go to my room.
“Mark and Marge, I want to thank you so much for making me part of your family. It’s truly the best gift anyone has ever given me, I love you both,” I said.
“And we love you too Cynthia, goodnight dear girl,” Marge said, as she kissed my cheek goodnight.
This had become the best Christmas of my life. I was home and was accepted for who I was, Cynthia Lynn McFadden, a girl from Sonoma.
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